Paul Kanjorski

Guest Post: America’s Hijackers – Where Are They Now?

Spoiler Alert: They’re mostly still in office  (so much for building suspense).

On October 3, 2008, 338 elected officials (263 House reps, 74 Senators and 1 President) took it upon themselves to save America from certain financial doom by passing the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, completely ignoring the will of the American people,  opting instead to fulfill a Thomas Jefferson prophesy:

“The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations.” 
~ Thomas Jefferson

This Is The Government: Your Legal Right To Redeem Your Money Market Account Has Been Denied - The Sequel

Two years ago, in January 2010, Zero Hedge wrote "This Is The Government: Your Legal Right To Redeem Your Money Market Account Has Been Denied" which became one of our most read stories of the year. The reason? Perhaps something to do with an implicit attempt at capital controls by the government on one of the primary forms of cash aggregation available: $2.7 trillion in US money market funds. The proximal catalyst back then were new proposed regulations seeking to pull one of these three core pillars (these being no volatility, instantaneous liquidity, and redeemability) from the foundation of the entire money market industry, by changing the primary assumptions of the key Money Market Rule 2a-7. A key proposal would give money market fund managers the option to "suspend redemptions to allow for the orderly liquidation of fund assets." In other words: an attempt to prevent money market runs (the same thing that crushed Lehman when the Reserve Fund broke the buck). This idea, which previously had been implicitly backed by the all important Group of 30 which is basically the shadow central planners of the world (don't believe us? check out the roster of current members), did not get too far, and was quickly forgotten. Until today, when the New York Fed decided to bring it back from the dead by publishing "The Minimum Balance At Risk: A Proposal to Mitigate the Systemic Risks Posed by Money Market FUnds". Now it is well known that any attempt to prevent a bank runs achieves nothing but merely accelerating just that (as Europe recently learned). But this coming from central planners - who never can accurately predict a rational response - is not surprising. What is surprising is that this proposal is reincarnated now. The question becomes: why now? What does the Fed know about market liquidity conditions that it does not want to share, and more importantly, is the Fed seeing a rapid deterioration in liquidity conditions in the future, that may and/or will prompt retail investors to pull their money in another Lehman-like bank run repeat?

What An American Bank Run Would Look Like

Technically the title of this post is wrong: the truth is that nobody could possibly know or predict what a bank run would looks like in details suffice to say that it would have terminal and devastating results on the global economy. One needs only remember what happened when the Reserve Fund broke the buck and the $3 billion money market industry was at risk of unwinding (for those who do not, Paul Kanjorski does a good summary here). What we do, however, wish to demonstrate is the tenuous balance between physical money - yes, just like precious metals, there is actual "physical money", better known as currency in circulation - and more abstract, confidence-based, "electronic money." Now when it comes to talking about systemic instability, pundits often enjoy bringing up the case of the $600+ trillion (recently discussed here in a different capacity) in synthetic derivatives, whose implosion would "wipe out the world." While that may indeed be the case (the memory of the CDS-precipitated AIG implosion is still all too fresh), since nobody really can comprehend the side effects of the collapse of global derivative system, which by some estimates is over $1 quadrillion when combining exchange and OTC based derivatives, it is largely based on pure conjecture. And, as we demonstrate below, one doesn't even need to do get that high up in the pyramid of credit money. The truth is that should there be an American bank run, what would happen is the conversion of all electronic dollars into physical dollars, as retail Americans rush to empty their checking and savings accounts, exit their money markets, while institutional America converts all "shadow" liabilities into hard dollar assets (Zero Hedge has a specific methodology of defining what liabilities make up the shadow banking system). The truth is that should there be a D-Day in the American banking system and there is a global scramble for physical paper (ignore gold) the conversion ratio for binary dollars into hard ones could be as high as 30 to 1. Which begs the question: should one apply a 90% discount when evaluating their electronic dollar exposure? That, and many other questions too...

Jim Grant Says All The Things That Ben Bernanke Avoided During His Press Conference, And Much More

Considering the only soundbite that was relevant from Ben Bernanke's 45 minute 2:15pm oratory was that "we don't have a precise read on why this slower pace of growth is persisting" America, and the entire civilized world, could have done just as well without it. Instead, we should have listened to Jim Grant, who once again correctly identifies all the things that the Fed chairman should have said (Bernanke certainly focused on the other side): "What we are not going to get is a concession that QE2 has achieved its unintended consequences, namely a lower dollar exchange rate, a higher gold price meaning weaker confidence in the dollar, slower economic growth and a higher measured rate of inflation. Those are some of the things that have come out of this experiment and let us call it by its name money printing...How do we know that this 30% gain in the Russell and 20% gain in Dow since the Chairman spoke in August, how are we to know these are real values. The prices are up, but are people who are buying these stocks on the back of the Fed, are they doing something wise from an investment point of view, and if the market is too high because the Fed has put it there, what does the Fed do when the market comes down, which opens the fate for QE3." And on a far more important topic which we will soon hear much more of, namely extensive US money market exposure in Europe, which will be completely locked up if, pardon, when there is a major liquidity run in Europe snagging American money market liquidity: "The money market mutual funds have nothing to do in this country cause rates are zero, go to Europe. So money market mutual funds investors are taking quite ponderable risks for about a 0% return, these funds are yielding a few basis points only. But to get those few basis point, these funds are crossing the Atlantic right smack dab in the middle of the European banking crisis. This is a prime example of the unintended consequences of this massive intervention by our central bank." Indeed, this is just one simple example of the massive clusterfuck, which certainly does not need Greece's $5 billion notional in CDS, to make the Lehman liquidity freeze seems like a little melting ice cube. And since everyone now agrees that Greece will default, and it is only a matter of time, all the trillions in dollars in the shadow and open banking systems that we have been exposing for years now, will suddenly be locked up in the forms of 1 and 0 in computers belonging to institutions that are no longer operational. And most unfortunately, the man in charge of it all, has a quivering lip problem.

Guest Post: The Gathering Storm

A butterfly flapped its wings in Tunisia creating a hurricane that is swirling across the globe, wreaking havoc with the existing social order and sweeping away old crumbling institutions and dictatorships. The linear thinking politicians, pundits and thought leaders have been knocked for a loop. They didn’t see it coming and they don’t know where it’s leading. An examination and understanding of history would have revealed that we have been here before. We were here in 1773. We were here in 1860. We were here in 1929. We are here again. The Fourth Turning has returned in its predictable cycle, just as Winter always follows Fall.

Guest Post: American Eulogy

At the outset of the last century America was still a vital, free, growing country on the rise. The song of the century began as a joyous ballad and ended as a funeral dirge. The creation of a Central Bank, which could create inflation on demand, and allowing politicians the ability to buy votes through pork spending, paid for with ever increasing taxation, have sucked the life out of the American Dream...The Federal Reserve has not been alone in killing the American Dream. Politicians since 1913 have done their part in suffocating the dream. The tax code consisted of 400 pages in 1913 and tax rates ranged from 1% to 7%. In less than a century politicians of both parties have carved out 70,000 pages of payoffs, entitlements, and bribes for their contributors and constituents. Tax rates now range from 10% to 35%. Those 70,000 pages of rules, regulations and tax breaks do not benefit the average middle class American. They benefit those who had the money and power to buy off a Congressman.The Federal Reserve and the US Tax Code bastardized the American Dream, created barriers to economic advancement, and supported the accumulation of wealth and power by a select few. The ruling elite have used their power and control over the media to convince the majority of Americans that the American Dream is about accumulating material possessions with debt. The American Dream no longer meant attaining the fullest measure of your capabilities, but living in the biggest McMansion, driving the nicest BMW, watching the biggest TV and wearing the latest fashions, all acquired with debt. America is dying.

Guest Post: A World Without Banks

Imagine a world without bankers. That thought either rattles you to the core of your being, or it brings on the kind of ecstasy heretofore only available in a Southeast Asian massage parlor. If you are a Congressman, addicted to the effluent from the wallets of your owners on Wall Street and their lobbyists in Washington, if you are a real estate developer who believes no amount of office space and no amount of luxury condominiums is too much, or if you summer in the Hamptons and Nantucket, then you are clearly in the first camp. If you are a typical ZH’er, spending your weekends at the range with your Beretta or sharpening the tines on your pitchfork, then welcome to SE Asia and the world of your wildest fantasy.